Qualcomm, Netgear, Telstra, and Ericsson show production 1Gb LTE

4G/5G Summit: Real production equipment is here and it works

Qualcomm Snapdragon logoAt their 4G/5G Summit, Qualcomm, Netgear, Ericsson, and Telstra demonstrated 1Gb LTE service with production equipment. SemiAccurate has seen the 1Gb demos before but never with things you can buy and on real network equipment.

As we showed you a few months ago, Qualcomm demonstrated their X16 modem capable of running at 1Gbps speeds live at MWC16. This was impressive even if they ‘only’ got to 979Mbps in the real world. This was however using test and pre-production equipment. Normally when you go from demos to production, a lot gets lost, or at least that is the prevailing wisdom.

Netgear MR1100 router for GbLTE

Netgear’s MR1100 hotspot with added gold wires

What you see above is a slightly molested but otherwise production Netgear Mobile Router MR1100 which used a production version of Qualcomm’s X16 modem. Yes this is a production device and should be on sale in a few weeks in Australia where Telstra is about to light up a production GbLTE network using Ericsson equipment. Before you question the production part and my ‘molested’ crack, the only changed part of the MR1100 is the hard-wiring in of the LTE antennas because you can’t light up a live LTE cell in the middle of one of the world’s most populated cities for obvious reasons. Other than that the MR1100 and the Ericsson cell transmitter were bog standard. So how did it work?

Qualcomm GbLTE production speeds

The slowest of six pictures

You could say the common wisdom was right, the achieved throughputs did technically go down from 979Mbps to 973Mpbs, a whopping 6Mbps loss or 0.61287% give or take a bit. To be fair the other five pictures all showed 979Mbps but due to camera flash failure they are pretty blurry and awful. In short it looks like pre-production to production lost about zero. Technically those numbers didn’t hit 1000Mbps but we think 979 is close enough, a little overhead and a few firmware revisions should make it possible.

That brings us back to Ericsson and Telstra. The back-end equipment, IE the other end on those wires, is a pretty standard LTE cell. Not much needs to be done on that end, basically a firmware revision or two and as long as the antenna count on the cell site is there, off you go at 1Gbps. SemiAccurate had access to the cell site equipment but there isn’t much to be gained from looking at it. It wasn’t a cooked demo by any means.

1Gbps is achieved by 3-carrier aggregation, 4×4 MIMO on 2 channels, 2×2 MIMO on the last, and 256QAM modulation, all of which are in use live on LTE networks right now. The big trick to the X16 modem is that it can do all 10 signals at once and combine them in realtime. They can and it works. So in a few weeks Telstra will be lighting up their 1GbLTE network officially using Ericsson gear. To get that speed to devices, Netgear’s MR1100 hotspot will be available and it uses Qualcomm’s X16 modem. The only difference between what you can buy soon and the demo above is yours won’t come with wires.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also available through Guidepoint and Mosaic. FullyAccurate